Melbourne Storm backrower Ryan Hinchcliffe says the Bulldogs have proven they can win without Josh Reynolds ahead of their NRL clash.
Melbourne Storm backrower Ryan Hinchcliffe believes the Bulldogs will lose little with five-eighth Josh Reynolds suspended for their crucial NRL clash at AAMI Park.
NSW playmaker Reynolds was rubbed out for three weeks for a shoulder charge in Wednesday night’s State of Origin clash.
Fellow Blue Josh Morris is in doubt with a knee injury while halfback Trent Hodkinson is set to play on Saturday night.
The Storm’s five-man Origin contingent came through the match unscathed with Queensland debutant Will Chambers cleared of concussion.
Maroons halfback Cooper Cronk, who was initially left out of the Storm squad, is tipped to start with Melbourne confirming their line-up after a late training run on Friday.
Hinchcliffe said that the Bulldogs’ last-round win over Manly, minus Reynolds, was proof they would still be a force without him.
Tony Williams, who wore the No.6 jersey against the Sea Eagles, is his likely replacement.
“Reynolds is an important player in their side no doubt but they’ve played without him this year leading into Origin and last week they had a really good win over Manly,” Hinchcliffe said.
Hinchcliffe described this year’s competition as the toughest and tightest he’d ever played in and said his side needed to quickly find some consistency if they wanted to be among the contenders.
They have a tough run home with five away games including two five-day turnarounds.
Hinchcliffe said it was vital they won their home matches.
“We’re getting to the back end of the season and we’ve struggled with our consistency this year,” he said.
“It’s a very important game for us and we need to make sure that we play well.”
In their last encounter in round four played in Perth, the Bulldogs crushed the Storm 40-12 which ended their undefeated start to the year.
“They’re a a dangerous side right across the park and they’ve got some big and skilful forwards with players like James Graham, who’s probably the most skilful front-rower in the game,” said Hinchcliffe.
Hinchcliffe said the Storm were thrilled to see Cronk make such a successful return from his broken arm.
“I was happy he got through the game unscathed and that he played well was a bonus,” he said.